I am an NHS worker from the North East - Brexit is wrecking everything around me

The Angel of the North looks over the A1 near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/P

The Angel of the North looks over the A1 near Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Young anti-Brexit campaigner ANDREW HERRIDGE works in cancer services for the NHS, and grew up in the North East of England. Here he explains why he's fighting against Boris Johnson's plans to prorogue parliament and for a People's Vote.

As a young person from the North East, and who works for the NHS, I can speak from personal experience on the urgency of a People's Vote on Brexit. I am devastated to see the impact Brexit is already having on my region and my work.

In my job as a clinical trial coordinator, I have already seen the impact that Brexit is already having on the availability of drugs. Most of these drugs are either brand-new cutting edge technology or drugs which are otherwise unavailable on the NHS, being offered as a lifeline to those who may have expended every other treatment option.

Cancer Research UK recommendations, provided last year, said that a continued drug supply for clinical trials would be wholly contingent on frictionless trade between the UK and the EU. We had contact from some of the companies running these trials back in January, explaining their plans to ensure the continuity of drug supply after Brexit. The best they could offer was a maximum of 6 month stockpile in warehouses. This might sound like a lot, but the patients on these trials normally require care for over a year, and the fallout from Brexit has been predicted to last considerably longer.

This was back when these companies were expecting us to leave the EU in March with a deal. Now the prospect of No Deal looms ever closer and we have had no further communication from these companies with either updated plans or confirmation these plans have been put into action. On top of this, an increase in the complexity of holding clinical trials in this country versus the simplification of the process in the EU means that these companies are likely to overlook the UK as a study site altogether.

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We've already seen a downturn in the amount of interest we have seen from companies based outside the UK, some of which are creating ground-breaking drugs and treatments with the potential to be life changing. We need a people's vote so we can have a final say on the continued supply of these drugs for some of the most vulnerable in our communities, whose lives may literally depend on it.

As a young person, I also believe we need a People's Vote for the sake of my future and the future of all young people across the country. According to the ONS, 1.4 million people have turned 18 since the first referendum in 2016. Statistically just under 1 million of these people were likely to have voted remain if they had been given the chance. These are the people who will have to live the longest with the fallout from Brexit, whether it is with a deal or without a deal.

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In 2016, we were told Brexit would represent a return to parliamentary democracy. Now prime minister Boris Johnson, unelected by the British public, has suspended parliamentary democracy in the name of Brexit. We are faced with leaving without a deal, without proper protections for the most vulnerable in our society like those I meet on a daily basis.

That's why I'm speaking on behalf of youth campaign For our Future's Sake at the Let Us Be Heard Rally for a People's Vote in Newcastle on Sunday. The only option left for those who truly believe in democracy is for us to have a People's Vote. And we're going to make sure everyone hears us.

- Andrew Herridge is also a Labour party member, youth officer, and an active member of my trade union, UNISON.

- The People's Vote rally in Newcastle will take place on Sunday 1st September at 1.30pm at the Assembly Rooms in Fenkle Street. Speakers also include Anna Turley (MP for Redcar), Clare Preston, Lord Andrew Adonis, Anna Soubry (MP for Broxtowe), Rachel Featherstone (former Green Party candidate) and Abby Tomlinson (For our Future's Sake).

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